ThyssenKrupp Waupaca
Tell City, IN

Company Information:

ThyssenKrupp Waupaca is a TS-16949, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 certified producer of gray, ductile and compacted graphite iron castings melting over 9,500 tons per day.  The Tell City, IN location produces gray iron castings between 8 and 220 pounds servicing the light truck, heavy truck, passenger car, disc brakes, and brake drums markets.


After products are molded at Thyssenkrupp Waupaca, they typically go to one of several trim presses to be trimmed to customer specification.  A die changeover is required between productions runs.  Trim Press 7 was chosen to be the subject of a kaizen event due to lengthy changeovers limiting capacity. 

ATN Assistance:

ThyssenKrupp Waupaca’s Tell City facility utilized the assistance of the Alabama Technology Network center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (ATN-UAH) to facilitate a team-based kaizen improvement event on Trim Press 7. A cross-functional team of ThyssenKrupp Waupaca employees consisting of operators, engineers, and continuous improvement specialists from three of the company’s locations was assembled to attack the problem. 

 ATN-UAH began by training the team in a 4 hour Lean Concepts course with simulation.  This allowed the team to learn to see non-value-added activities and develop camaraderie. Next, the team divided into sub-teams and went to observe the process as it was currently operating.  The team collected data on changeover times, operator travel during the changeover, and made note of non-value-added activities. Key problems included a lack of workplace organization, searching for tools and supplies, forklift delays, and a lack of standardized procedures for changeover. Based on the observational data and the opportunities for improvement that were identified, countermeasures were developed.

The kaizen team worked 5 days on implementing several ideas to reduce changeover time.  Tool boards and racks were fabricated to store tools and equipment at the point of use.  Workplace organization efforts were made to rid the work area of clutter and neatly line-off and label locations for necessary items. A daily checklist was developed to ensure that the workplace would remain organized over time.  Die staging areas were created and marked off near the cell to reduce internal activities during the changeover.  An electric pallet lift was acquired to eliminate the need for a forklift and forklift operator.  Once all improvements were finalized and tested, standardized procedures with visual pictures of key changeover activities were documented.


At the end of the kaizen event, multiple changeovers were performed, measured, and compared to previous changeover times.  Before the improvements, changeover time was measured as 24 minutes, 21 seconds.  The changeover time after the improvements was measured to be 16 minutes, 19 seconds (an improvement of 33%!)  Additionally, the implementation of the electric lift allowed a 55% savings in man hours needed to perform changeovers, allowing the company to realize a project annual savings of over $115,000.